Posts Tagged ‘municipality’

Real Estate: Have A Crystal Ball

July 18, 2014

14Jul18 New Pix

(Image Credit: Google Images – gondwanaland.com)

See Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer below.                                                                                

To Inhouse WebSite

WHEN SUBMITTING A MUNICIPAL REAL ESTATE APPLICATION, take nothing for granted.

Case in point: Do you know many municipalities can access a procedure that legally lets them create one large land parcel from two or more abutting lots that are owned under the same name? Folks often are surprised to learn this, but taken aback to learn the procedure usually can be completed  without notice to the owner and without the owner’s consent.

A corporation that would later become our client discovered this the hard way. It had an interest in purchasing one of three separate contiguous parcels. Each of them had been developed years earlier and each had a different use: Multi-family; retail; and single family. Although all three were under the control of a company that actually owned the properties and was selling them, they stayed as separate lots under a form of the technique known as “checker boarding.”

Though our eventual client was only interested in purchasing the multi-family parcel, the seller insisted all three had to be bought together as a package ― it was all or nothing. Ultimately the three lot package was bought through a strategy to resell the retail and single-family parcels promptly after the closing. Unknown to the client at the time, once the three parcels were purchased in our client’s name they were soon merged into one, which fact became abundantly clear when arrangements were made to market the two lots.

At this stage we were retained as management consultants and from that station learned our client hired an expert attorney to petition for the restoration (unmerging) of parcel lot lines to premerger positions. The client was optimistic due to the favorable specifics involved: No two parcels had the same use; and each had been fully and independently developed long ago with its own infrastructure, utilities and buildings. As the client deemed the matter an unwelcome expense and inconvenience rather than a potential obstacle, it commenced preliminary plans to market the retail and single-family parcels.

However, that inconvenience unsuccessfully dragged on for about three years. The municipality requested documents, information and introduced requirements that had no reasonable relationship to the lot-line restoration request, including such things as mortgage documents, names of tenants and property tax data. New requirements seemed to arise at each hearing. At one juncture the municipality alleged a lot-line restoration would increase town density despite the fact that the parcels could not be further developed.

In the end the merger stayed intact. The client released its attorney and halted its lot line restoration efforts believing the municipality simply didn’t want a multi-family facility to remain in the area of the client’s property even though zoning did not forbid it. Given the time elapsed and money spent, the client’s resolve and resources apparently were too drained to move to the next step, a lawsuit.

The bottom line: Either take nothing for granted with a municipal application  … or have a reliable crystal ball as a guide.

***************************

Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

***************************

Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

 

 

A Good Day At City Hall?

April 7, 2014

City Hall

See Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer below.                                                                                

To Inhouse WebSite

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE we run into a situation where the implementation/ enforcement of a municipal code strays from the stated intent of the regulation. When it happens a visit to city hall is planned to clarify what needs to be done for a specific project to comply. Unfortunately such a visit can be an exercise in frustration, though sometimes there are small victories along the way. A recent event concerning a municipal regulations brought back a memory of a lesson learned about those codes: Never presume all of them are written in stone. There are times when city hall does listen, if approached properly.

The lesson was learned through the smallest of tasks, our involvement with obtaining a town permit for a family backyard swimming pool— the thirty inch high above-ground kind. Their rear property line extended into a portion of the pond behind their home, which was suitable for fishing from the bank (a favorite pastime of their boys) but was not a choice for swimming due to the occasional presence of snapping turtles. As a result the property owners wanted a small pool for the hot days of August.

Being aware their town required fencing to prevent young neighborhood children from playing near the pool and possibly falling into it, their permit application included a hand-drawn site plan placing the pool between the pond and their home, the backside of which would border the pool to the south. Child-proof fence would be on the east and west sides while the pond would guard the north. Each side fence would be attached to the house and run fully into the pond to prevent anyone from going around the pond-end of either side fence to gain pool access.

On paper the plan appeared to provide the needed security yet allow the boys to fish from the bank. Nonetheless, following its submission the municipality rejected the application. When questioned the town told the owners their plan did not meet code, that the house side alone did not need a fence (access to the pool had to be from the house), and except for the house side the fence had to enclose the pool without a gate.

Our review of code requirements disclosed the application satisfied the spirit and intent of the regulation but not the then current enforcement policies of the code. Moreover, the code allowed some degree of latitude at the discretion of the municipality’s code enforcement staff, though that department took a fail-safe approach by not allowing any deviations. As things stood, the town wanted an acceptable fence on three sides of the pool with no gate. A subsequent meeting with code enforcement only served to adamantly echo what was already known.

Continuing our effort for logic, the town attorney agreed to see us yet seemed puzzled we would seek an exemption from the safety requirement to fence the side facing the pond. So we asked him why the town believed a small child would be able to reach the envisioned above-ground pool by first swimming about two-hundred fifty feet across a thirty-foot deep pond inhabited by snapping turtles then climbing to the top of the pool only to then somehow jeopardize his/her safety in the twenty-four inch deep pool water. It was a straightforward question that evidently caught his attention.

Not too long thereafter we were notified the enforcement policy changed to allow some flexibility. A fence would still be needed along the pond side, but pond access could be gained through a self-locking gate. It was a compromise of sorts, which the owners ultimately accepted.

Evidently the town acknowledged the logic, if only partially. It was a good day … of sorts.

Want a consultant to help with municipal interactions? Feel free to contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com  and place the words “Municipal Help” on the subject line.

***************************

Need coaching, training or problem troubleshooting regarding other housing issues? Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

***************************

Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.